Promoting climate-resilient farming models for women farmers in India

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The Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) is a women-led, climate resilient agro-ecological farming model that focuses on land and soil restoration, livelihood security enhancement and women farmers’ empowerment. In particular, this organization focuses on women living in farmer households and mainstreams them as agents of sustainable farming. This model encourages these women to gain cultivation rights from their families, cultivate the land and sell its produce. Swayam Shikshan Prayog empowers grassroots women’s collectives to move from “Margin to Mainstream”. Over two decades, we have built robust partnership eco-systems that enable women’s entrepreneurship and leadership in sustainable development. Climate resilience farming model repositions women as farmers and bearers of the knowledge, enabling them to make informed decisions related to what to grow, what to consume and how much to sell.

No Poverty , Zero Hunger , Climate Action , Life on Land , Good Health and Well-Being , Gender Equality , Build resilience of vulnerable to climate disasters , Ensure women’s equal rights to resources, inheritance , Eradicate extreme poverty , End hunger, especially of poor, vulnerable, infants , End malnutrition, especially in children, women, elders , Ensure sustainable, climate-resilient food systems , End preventable newborn and child deaths , Strengthen resilience, adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards , Improve learning, capacity on climate change measures

In the climate-threatened regions of Maharashtra in India, marginal farmers grow mostly cash crops like soya and cotton - which require substantial water, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, causing long-term harm to the land, health and environment. In order to address this challenge, Swayam Shikshan Prayog promotes nutrient-enriched crops, such as vegetables, pulses, cereals, millets, and sensitizes women and girls on the importance of nutritious food consuming. The organization targets marginalized and landless women farmer families who are the most affected during climate-related disasters. In fact, one of the major objectives of Swayam Shikshan Prayog is to improve the health and nutritional status of women, especially adolescent girls and pregnant/lactating women. In India, women are considered to be caretakers of the family and due to this role, their health is at times neglected. Traditionally, women and girls are the last ones to eat in the family and usually eat leftovers. It is for this reason that many women and girls are not able to meet their daily nutritional requirements. In fact, almost 59% of women are anemic in India.

The Swayam Shikshan Prayog promotes a climate-resilient farming model through sustainable farming techniques, including increasing livestock and consumption, marketing locally grown foods and integrating water management techniques. In particular, Swayam Shikshan Prayog encourages women farmers to preserve and exchange local seeds, as well as diversify them in order to reduce climate risk and enhance household food consumption.

As a result, women farmers were able to sell their surplus produce and were also able to start agro-related businesses, such as livestock rearing, dairy, seeds processing, to name a few. In addition, women farmers were able to mix cropping to increase their yields and increase the nutritional security of their households, as well as grow low-cost hydroponics.  

Overall, Swayam Shikshan Prayog has scaled up the initiative in Maharashtra to 160 villages, reaching 20,000 women farmers. In addition, given the proven benefits of the model, Swayam Shikshan Prayog is expanding to other areas in the Marathwada region. Lastly, the model is being replicated in countries, such as Kenya, the Philippines, Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia.


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